Cover Image: Between Two Moons

Between Two Moons

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Member Reviews

A multi-layered, well-depicted look into what it is to be young and Muslim in America. But it’s not in its representation or prose that it fails. It’s incredibly slow paced with threads that were left unfinished. The whole book builds up to the ending, but the payoff is not nearly there, especially as predictable as it is. Ultimately, it’s a book that goes nowhere, and while those are sometimes my favorite kind of books, this book is not one that quite works. 3 stars.

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someone on goodreads said that reading this felt like having a lump in their throat for the whole experience, and i think that's why i'm having a hard time getting through it. i can tell that it's so beautiful, and so important, but it's so painful.

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Wow. I didn’t know what to expect with this story so I went in blind. Completely taken aback but it the best way. Literary classic

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Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me and was a DNF but I am sure other readers will feel differently! Thank you for the ARC!

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An emotionally charged coming-of-age tale that explores the intricate dynamics of family, identity, and the immigrant journey with a refreshing perspective.

Narrated predominantly through the voice of Amira, a teenage protagonist, this narrative unfolds within the backdrop of a Muslim family’s life in New York City during the sacred month of Ramadan, a time “between two moons.” Yet, it also navigates the delicate balance between embracing the life of an assimilated American teenager and adhering faithfully to her Muslim faith. In this pivotal juncture, Amira faces a profound choice: which path to follow, and who does she aspire to become?

This captivating story held me spellbound, compelling me to turn its pages eagerly until the very last word. A powerful and engrossing read that leaves a lasting impression!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This coming of age novel was absolutely beautiful and gripping. Set during the month of Ramadan, the older brother returns home from prison. This has tons of drama and suspense. Highly, highly recommend.

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This was such a great read, and for a debut I was blown away, Special thanks to the author & publisher for my advanced copy. Will re-read this book and recommend it to friends!

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This was really good way better than I expected!!!! I’ll post my full review soon. Special thanks to the author & publisher for my advanced copy.

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I can't believe this is a debut.

This coming of age story has a perfect balance of all the complicated feelings and situations that we can find ourselves in at that age. The book is honest, and impossible to put down. It also feels like something I've never read before while feeling so familiar, a balance that is hard to find.

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This book really just took me for a ride. I loved the build up, the character development, and the writing. I would definitely read more from this author!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Between Two Moons is Aisha Abdel Gawad's stirring debut, focusing on an Arab American family in Bay Ridge, NYC. When Amira's long lost brother returns from prison, her family is forced to confront past histories they had put away. Adding to the drama of the piece is the ever present gaze of American society, which views Muslim folk as violent and uncontrolled. What is most successful about this piece is the way we see Amira's brother, Sami, find peace in an unjust system. What bothered me the most is Amira's passivity to go along with her sister, to seek male approval from her crush, to appease her parents. I wish Amira embraced herself more, like Lina, and leaned into her inner strength. Overall, Gawande paints an accurate portrayal of what it means to grow up Muslim American today.

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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. I only finished reading the book to see if any of the characters repent, but the sinning just kept getting worse. Initially I enjoyed the descriptions of Islamic beliefs and Quran, but then the author started insulting well-respected and revered women in Islamic history, so I can’t recommend this book. Even if I could overlook and see some kind of symbolism there, the sex, drugs, alcohol, rape, and profanity all stop me from recommending this book.

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Sometimes amidst the intense thrillers, catastrophe-laden historical fictions, and steamy romance novels, I need to mix in an intimate, emotional, family-driven story. If you're looking for one of these, Between Two Moons is a wonderful choice. I loved it.

It's 2014, and the month of Ramadan has started for the Muslim community in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge section of New York City. Amira, the sensitive sibling of the Emam family, is "between two moons." One moon is Lina, her vibrant yet careless twin sister who she accompanies on adventures, which put both girls at risk. The second moon is Sammi, the elusive older brother who's just been released from prison early and is as cryptic and misunderstood as ever. As Amira navigates this time before heading to college, we readers get an up-close look at not only this particular moment in Amira's life, but also the lives of Muslims as they navigate the post-9/11 world and the increased hate and persecution endured by Muslim-Americans.

While there are some "big" moments on this story, it's the quiet moments--love shown between the sisters, the moments of family time enjoyed by the Emam family, and Amira's struggle to balance out her yearning for connection with the realities of the world she lives in--that really stand out. Gawad's prose (for a debut!) is heartfelt, descriptive, and resonant. I love how she expertly captures this specific moment in time.

If you overdo it on beach reads and need a engrossing, emotional read, give this one a try. It's a gem.

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One of Abdel Gawad's many talents as a writer is her ability to navigate a myriad of tensions, each pulling Amira in different directions; Abdel Gawad manages to make even the most specific of those conflicts feel universal. Midway through the novel, Amira puts it simply: "There were are lives here in Bay Ridge, where we were Arabs, Muslims, daughters. And then there were our other lives, out there, away from all this." This is perhaps the central pull of the novel: Amira's growing understanding that try as she might to control others' perception of her (or lack thereof--she longs to be "unrecognizable, untrackable, untraceable"), she is ultimately at the mercy of the world around her, which has strict ideas of who and what she can possibly be. Abdel Gawad follows that tension with a deft hand, scaling her focus through a telescopic narrative voice that takes us outside of Amira's head just often enough for us to see how Amira's story is just one piece in a larger puzzle. The constant scrutiny Amira feels as a young woman (the grabbing hands the leering eyes of older men, the teasing voices of her classmates, the disapproving clucks of older women assessing her dress and comportment) is compounded by the relentless surveillance state, which hyperfocuses on Arab Americans. Amira's vague sense that "they" are watching her ("Who do you think 'they' are,?" Sami asks, to her embarrassment.) is made manifest by police with endless questions, a redacted file of information on Bay Ridge, and random acts of senseless violence committed against her community with apparent impunity. Amira's shaky grasp on the larger political scene contrasts with Sami's world-weariness and increasing desperation, as he navigates a system that he (correctly) suspects is merely a series of traps masquerading as justice. "They want to prove that we are what they say we are," he says, and it's difficult to disagree with his assessment.

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"In that moment on the couch— and that whole summer, in fact—I was strung up between two moons."

I'm not exactly sure why I haven't seen Between Two Moons here at all but it needs to be and deserves to be.

Summary
Aisha Abdel Gawad's debut novel is a coming-of-age story about two teenage girls. They're twins living in Brooklyn. Their older brother is getting out of prison. Their parents are immigrants from Egypt. And the book's title, "Between Two Moons," refers to the time period when the book is set. The entire novel takes place during one month of Ramadan.

This book had everything I love in a book. It's looking like this will be my favorite of the month. I highly recommend it!

Thank you to @netgalley for this free copy and thank you to @prhaudio - I preferred the audio! Between Two Moons is out now!
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What a fantastic debut. I was captured by the prose instantly and the Bay Ridge community came through so clearly. Sprawling family sagas are my absolute favorite kind of book, and this title will definitely be added to my favorites list. The only slight critique I have is that the chapters were so long with not enough page breaks, which made it harder to find a good place to pause if I didn’t have enough time to read to the next chapter.

Thank you to the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for this review.

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The story opens up just as Ramadan begins and twins Amira and Lina graduate high school. Their summer plans change when their brother is suddenly released from prison on good behavior and he returns home to live with them. Amira is anticipating going to college and trying to break out of her shell a bit while Lina is aiming for a modeling career and ends up in a few precarious and dangerous situations. Their are unused to living with their brother and everyone is trying to find their footing again. Overall, a richly detailed Bay Ridge summer setting focused on the Arab American community and the strains the community feels from being constantly surveilled. The family dynamics were very interesting with how everyone saw their role, as well as the differences between generations.

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Loved the rich setting, the family dynamics… I can’t figure out why no one is talking about this book. Perfect coming of age without the annoying teen angst.

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An effective novel about Arab Americans and growing up in the age of surveillance. I could feel the need to look over one’s shoulder esp with the brothers storyline. I was very engaged in the family overall, and the twins connection. Not a fan of age gap relationships but I do like how the author showed the power dynamics btw the older men and younger female MCs.

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There’s so much to say about Between Two Moons! What a lovely read, yet heartbreaking. I absolutely loved Amira and Lina, but most importantly their bond as twins. Amira, the caretaker and responsible one in the family. Lina, more carefree and wild. Both sisters are yearning for love but in different ways. I find it interesting the way the author chooses different POVs to write this novel. It was strange at first going from Amira to another POV, but eventually I was accustomed to it, even looking forward to it. I’m upset by the ending. I had to read it multiple times trying to piece together what happened to Sami. I loved that the story took place during the Holy month of Ramadan. Readers are on this journey with Amira who does not feel connected to her religion, though she’s trying. I felt connected to Lina throughout the story because she’s like many young girls grappling with religion and wanting to be loved. Lina struggled out loud and Amira struggled silently. At the end though, readers know that Amira and Lina got each other, always. Beautifully written story.

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